Wine glasses

Do you wonder how the style of a wine glass affects taste?

As odd as this may seem, it's true that you could drink the same wine out of three different glasses and have three different taste experiences. There are as many different wine glasses as there are wines, but this does not mean that you will need to spend thousands of dollars on refined stemware in order to get the full experience out of every bottle of wine. Let's take a look at what determines a proper wine glass.

Components

There are three main components of any standard wine glass: base, stem, and bowl.

Base - The base, a flat round piece at the bottom of the bowl, keeps your wine glass standing upright. The shape of the base may vary slightly, but the purpose remains the same. It is simply a way to connect the stem to the bowl and to keep the bowl upright. Some wine glasses may have a base that is thicker than the rest of the glass. This adds some nice weight to the feel of the wine glass, although there are some who prefer a lighter-than-air feel. It's all a matter of preference as the base still only functions as a support piece and has little to do with the quality of the wine drinking experience.

Stem - The stem gives you a way to hold your glass, but more importantly it allows you to keep your hands from warming the wine. Also, the stem keeps fingerprints from smudging the bowl, which would reduce the visual stimulus of the wine. Today, you'll find a streamlined version of wine glasses that are stemless. There are people who love them, and people who regard these popular wine glasses as an affront to serious wine appreciation. Opinions vary widely about the stemless glasses. However, in wine drinking countries like Italy, you'll often see all sorts of wines served in what looks like jelly jars; stemless, indeed. This is often considered very fun and very continental! Stemless wine glasses have also gained in popularity as they are more resistant to the occasional tipping and spilling at large gatherings.

Bowl - The bowl is where you will see the most variation in shape and size. Every bowl has the same general function, holding the wine, but the variations allow more or less air into the wine to further develop the flavors. All wine glass bowls have roughly the same shape; wider bottom, tapering upward. The ratio of wide to narrow determines which wine would fare better in which shape. The general 'wider bottom, tapered top' shape allows the wineÔÇÖs aroma to be captured and delivered straight to your nose and palate.

Red wine glass

Glasses designed for red wines are usually much more round at the bottom, tapering only slightly to the top, giving them a wider opening, which invites you to get your nose into the glass and breathe in all of those rich red flavors. The full bodied wines, such as Merlots and Ports usually have a taller glass, which directs the wine straight to the back of the palate where the taste buds can get the most out of the flavor.

White wine glass

White wine glasses are more of a bell shape, which allow the wine to maintain a cooler temperature. The curvature at the top of the bell shape helps the wine to contact the sides of the tongue where the sweet sensation resides. The wider mouth of the glass also allows more air in to push the crisp, bold flavors to the surface of the wine.

Sparkling wine and champagne flute

The only variation in white wine glasses is the flute shape for Sparkling Wine and Champagne, which is tall and narrow. This shape works well as it holds the carbonation in. This style of wine glass also keeps the wine at the back of the palate for optimal taste.

How to choose your wine glasses

When all is said and done, unless you plan to become a wine connoisseur, you really only need one or two nice wine glasses. Choose a larger, more open bowl for your red wines and a more slender bell-shaped glass for your white wines. The most important thing to look for in any wine glass is good, solid construction; something that feels good in your hand and looks clear and clean.

Whether you choose stemmed glasses, or stemless glasses, lift up the glass, feel the weight, and consider the shape. If the glass is pleasing to touch and to see, you have chosen the right wine glass for you!